The Netherlands and Belgium will now meet in both the men’s and women’s Rabo EuroHockey Championships as Mirco Pruijser scored a pair of beautiful goals to see off England. Earlier, Belgium beat Germany in a shoot-out to secure their place
Men’s Semi-final: Netherlands 3 Germany 1 (2-0)
Mirco Pruijser’s brilliant double saw the Netherlands continue their title defence as they saw off England, setting up a rematch with Belgium on Sunday afternoon.
The game hinged on two goals in quick succession, starting in the 22nds minute. Glenn Schuurman intercepted a loose ball out of defence that led to a first Dutch corner. The trap was not set perfectly for Mink van der Weerden but he recovered quickly to get a shot off; the first effort was blocked but landed nicely for his reverse and he fired a rocket beyond George Pinner.
Netherlands v England – Men's Rabo EuroHockey Championships – Match Highlights pic.twitter.com/FDy3KaYqFk
— EuroHockey (@eurohockeyorg) August 25, 2017
A minute later, another English clearance fell into Dutch hands and was worked up the pitch to Bjorn Kellerman who slipped the ball to Mirco Pruijser who applied another unstoppable finish.
Prior to that, England had started well with Ollie Willars firing the first shot in anger – Pirmin Blaak booting the chance away – with David Condon having another go. They would also see a couple of chances flit dangerously across the face of goal and have a Sam Ward strike go just wide but they ended up trailing 2-0 at the break.
It became 3-0 in the 39th minute with another piece of Pruijser magic. Billy Bakker burned off the cover defence before delivering the ball into a mix of players in the centre. Thierry Brinkman fought to grab the ball and found Pruijser with his back to goal but he still managed to flick the ball up and pirouette in mid-air to volley in with his second touch.
England got a lifeline from their second corner in the 42nd minute which Mark Gleghorne planted into the top corner to get one back. Chris Griffiths then went close early in the fourth quarter a England had some momentum.
The Dutch settled, though, and could have gone out of sight had they nailed one of their corners. They did not need them, however, as they kept hold of their lead with relative comfort.
“Very pleased,” Pruijser said of the win. “We played a very organised second half; the first half we gave a few things away but it was very nice. Those goals were very important. We had good pressure and we wanted to force a goal and finally they came.”
For the goals, he added: “The first I just wanted to hit is as hard as I could. The other was a really good pass from Thierry Brinkman who could not shot. Again, I thought, I need to shoot as quick as possible so it was really nice.”
It means a rematch with Belgium who beat the Dutch 5-0 in the group: “They have a really good zone press and we do as well so I think it will be a very nice final.”
Netherlands – Germany
22’ Mink van der Weerden 1-0 (pc)
23’ Mirco Pruijser 2-0
39’ Micro Pruijser 3-0
42’ Mark Gleghorne 3-1 (pc)
Umpires: B Goentgen (GER), J Mejzlik (CZE)
Men’s semi-final: Germany – Belgium 2-2 (1-1), Belgium win 2-0 on shoot-out
A perfect shoot-out from Vincent Vanasch saw Belgium reach the final of the Rabo EuroHockey Championships, beating six-time champions Germany after a cracking tie in the Wagener Stadium.
The Germans got off to a rip-roaring start with Christopher Ruhr’s charging run finding a foot for the game’s first penalty corner. Lukas Windfeder fired in his fourth goal of the competition with a drag-flick into the top right corner over Florent van Aubel’s head.
Belgium, though, were buzzing at times in the first half with chances for Thomas Briels, Tom Boon and Florent van Aubel before Boon got the levelling goal, spinning a shot in off a defender.
And they thought they had a second when they worked a beautiful move out to Felix Denayer who slammed into the backboard. A long video review, however, spotted a foot in the build-up that meant the effort was cancelled.
Germany v Belgium – Men's Rabo EuroHockey Championships – Match Highlights pic.twitter.com/gaySZT6os7
— EuroHockey (@eurohockeyorg) August 25, 2017
Sebastien Dockier did make it 2-1 in the 37th minute with Boon finding the striker with a clever pass inside.
Ruhr was always a threat and his cross went within inches of being touched in by Niklas Wellen while Loick Luypaert made timely interventions to maintain the lead.
Vincent Vanasch produced a truly spectacular save with his glove – following two earlier blocks – to deny Marco Miltkau in a thrilling final quarter.
Belgium, meanwhile, had the chance to kill the game off when Germany had swapped out their goalkeeper only for Matthias Muller to chase back and brilliantly clean up the chance.
It gave Germany a lifeline, one they seem to relish. And so it came to Benedikt Furk to pick up the ball on the left of the circle and shoot home at Vanasch’s near post, landing their shoot-out chance.
But Felix Denayer and Victor Wegnez scored their shoot-outs while Vincent Vanasch kept out all four German efforts to earn their place in the final for the second time.
Simon Gougnard was named man of the match and he was delighted with the defensive platform his side put in place.
“It’s a really great team effort to beat Germany. It’s never easy, especially in the end phase. We worked really hard in our press and our really proud of our performance today.
“We wanted to press them really hard and we worked really hard. It started with the attackers who did a really good job with the defence and midfield in behind them.”
Asked about bouncing back from the late goal and the shoot-out.
“We needed to keep our composure at the end and it’s never easy. They came back so we needed to mentally ready for the shoot-out and I think we did a great job. It’s a lot of pressure but it’s what is nice about sport.”
Germany – Belgium
3’ Lukas Windfeder 1-0 (pc)
18’ Tom Boon 1-1
37’ Sebastien Dockier 1-2
59’ Benedikt Furk 2-2
Umpires: J van ‘t Hek (NED), B Bale (ENG)